The Mona Lisa at The Lovre is probably the most recognised piece of artwork on the planet. But what else does Paris offer up in terms of getting your culture vulture fix? Here we explore some of Paris’ most famous and best museums for you to visit on your trip.
There are over 35,000 works of art to be appreciated at The Louvre, most notably The Mona Lisa which was first hung in the Louvre in 1804. As well as other famous artworks including The Raft of Medusa and The Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Louvre also has ancient oriental, Egyptian and Greek collections.
If impressionist artwork is high on your list of things to see in Paris, then you must visit Musee d’Orsay as it has a vast collection of paintings by the worlds most notable impressionist artists including Monet, Pissarro, Morisot and Renoir. Famous works on display include Edouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe (1863), Monet’s Coquelicots (1873) and Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette (1876).
You can also see The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin at the Musee d’Orsay, believe us, it is fascinating.
The Pompidou Centre is a magnificent building which houses a vast public information library Bibliothèque publique d’information and Musée national d’art moderne which is the largest museum housing modern art in Europe. Contemporary masterpieces on display include Marcel Duchamp’s legendary Fontaine (1917) and Frida Kahlo’s The Frame (1938).
City of Science and Industry
The biggest science museum in Europe and one of three dozen cultural centres of its kind in France, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie attracts 5 million visitors per year. Kids will not mind being dragged around this museum as it houses a brilliant planetarium, a 1950’s submarine and an IMAX theatre. Immerse yourself into science and explore your brain, genes and how energy is created throughout your body in this museum.
Quai Branly Museum
Located next to the Eiffel Tower the Quai Branly Museum is the newest museum in Paris and attracted just over a million visitors last year. The museum features over a million objects of indigenous art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and The Americas. It also serves as a centre for research. This museum is credited to former French president Jacques Chirac who instigated its opening in 2006.
Louis Vuitton Foundation
Opened in 2006 the Louis Vuitton Foundation museum was orchestrated by the owner of LVMH group Bernard Arnault in an effort to promote art and culture. The permanent collection is organised into 4 parts, Contemplative, Pop, Expressionist and music & sound. Those of you thinking it will display a range of cute handbags will be sorely disappointed. Although the building itself created by Frank Gehry is a masterpiece in its own right.
Musée de l’Orangerie
If the Musee d’Orsay doesn’t give you enough Monet impressionist art then the Musée de l’Orangerie is the permanent home of eight large water lilies paintings by Claude Money. As well as those works of Monet, you can also see artwork by Paul Cézanne, Henry Matisse & Pablo Picasson.
The Grevin Museum is a wax museum containing real-life waxworks of many famous celebrities including film stars Al Pacino, Leonardo Di Caprio, and Angelina Jolie as well as sports stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe & Zlatan Ibrahimović plus many more. The Grevin is definitely a hit with the kids as they get up close and personal with their favourite stars.
The Grand Gallery of Evolution
With more than 7,000 preserved animal species, the Grand Gallery of Evolution takes you on a biological tour of science and history. They don’t speak but they tell you everything about life. Upon entry, you’ll be met with a gigantic blue whale but it doesn’t stop there. Throughout this intriguing exhibition, you’ll learn the evolution of thousands of species including that of man itself. A marvel of this museum is in its surroundings, a building of great magnitude built in 1889 remains fully intact.
Located on the Champs-Élysées in the centre of Paris is the iconic Grand Palais. This impressive museum organises major international exhibitions across classical, modern and contemporary art. You can check out which exhibition is on when you visit here.
The Grand Palais also host events for Paris Fashion Week in its exhibition hall. Culture is represented here in all its forms, attracting 2 million visitors per year.
The Army Museum Invalides
The Musée de l’Armée is the national military museum of France and is located within Les Invalides.
With over 500,000 artifacts housed within the museum, this is a museum for war history buffs. The architecture of this museum is insanley beautiful and so impressive is the museum, it is split into 10 sections including, Artilliary, WWI & WWII, weapons used between the 13th-17th Centuries, and Modern warfare.
The biggest attraction is the tomb of Napoleon himself. Another recommended thing to see is the stunning Cathedral of Saint-Louis des invalides. Set away from the museum itself, it is actually where the king would attend mass alongside other regular soldiers.
Closest metro stations are Invalides, Varenne & La Tour-Maubourg.
Petit Palais – Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris
The Petit Palais (translated as the small palace) is a fine art museum. It was originally built for the universal exhibition of 1900 and is situated near the Grand Palais.
This museum is a hidden gem and isn’t really on many visitors top 3 museums to visit in Paris, but don’t be fooled. The museum specialises in medieval and Renaissance objects such as sculptures, porcelain, tapestries as well as collections of paintings by artists such as Colbert, Cézanne, Rembrandt, Monet and Delacroix.
Best of all, it’s free.
Musée national Picasso-Paris
Pablo Picasso was a famous Spanish artist, so how come he has a museum in Paris named after him? Well, Pablo lived in France for 68 years. He first visited the art capital of Europe in 1900 and fell in love with the city. What is known as Picasso’s Blue period commenced a year later in 1901.
Upon his death in 1973, most of his personal items were donated by his family in accordance with his wishes. Today, everyone is able to delve into the life of this fascinating artist and view his legacy up close.
The museum houses more than 5,000 works of art incluidng paintings, scultpures and drawings. On top of that, the museum also includes thousands of papers, photographs, correspondence and author manuscripts from Picasso’s personal repository.
Musée d’Art moderne de Paris
The Paris Museum of Modern Art or MAM Paris is a museum dedicated to 20th & 21st Century modern and contemporary art.
Today the museum houses more than 15,000 works of art including abstract art, new realism and narrative representation.
Famous pieces of artwork include French artist Robert Delauney’s La Ville which is one of the world’s finest examples of Orphism. Another classic piece is Nu dans le bain by another French artist Pierre Bonnard. Bonnard was known for his intimate domestic scenes which usually included the help of his wife, Martha.
Another free museum is surely enough of a reason to visit.
Palais de la découverte
Known as The Discovery Palace, this museum is dedicated to Science. Permanent exhibitions include those dedicated to mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, geology, and chemistry. Be careful though, the kids will love it.
The museum was the brainchild of 1926 Nobel Prize winner (Physics) Jean Baptiste Perrin and was created shortly after in 1937.
You can visit 2 museums on the same day if you also visit the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie as both were renamed Universcience in 2010.
One of the coolest things to see in this museum is a Zeiss planetarium with a 15 metre dome.
Musée du Luxembourg
The Musée du Luxembourg was the first French museum opened to the public in 1750 and was initially an art museum. However, in 1818 it became Frances’ first contemporary art museum. It is located in the former orangery of the Luxembourg Palace.
Today the museum hosts projects to honour the renaissance in Europe and the relationship between art and power.
As well as the Luxembourg Palace & Gardens the Musée du Luxembourg is set within beautiful grounds and is well worth a visit.
Often compared to the Frick Collection in New York the Musée Jacquemart-André is a stunning 19th-century abode that houses rare works of art and furniture.
Created by 19th-century collector Edouard André and his portrait artist wife Nélie Jacquemart, this beautiful French mansion is home to some of the most remarkable collections of furniture from Flemish and German schools and detached frescoes. The first floor is Nélie Jacquemart’s masterpiece, where she devoted her passion for Italian art from the Renaissance period in Florence and Venice.
Musée national des Arts asiatiques
The Musée national des Arts asiatiques also known as The Guimet or MNAAG is the place to be if you want to explore Asian art. Established in 1879 in Lyon but transferred to Paris in 1889 by Emile Guime, the museum has grown to include a collection of thousands of artifacts from across the Asian continent.
From decorative scrolls and porcelain buddhas, it also includes stone portraits from the site of Hadda in the 3rd century.
Whilst Afghanistan was at war the museum harboured collections from the Kabul museum between 2006-2007 with archaeological pieces from the city of Ai-Khanoum.
Palais de Tokyo
Situated close the the Eiffel Tower, the Palais de Tokyo is housed in a monumental building which is a site in itself. The building was built in 1937 to host the Paris International Exhibition and today, the museum dedicates its collection to Art and Technology in modern life.
The West Wing is Europes largest centres for creation and contemporary art. You can also visit the Little Palais too which is great for children and also a relaxing walk through one of 2 gardens is great way to unwind in Paris.
The other side of the museum is home to the The Paris Museum of Modern Art which we saw earlier. So visit both, after all they are free.
Musée Rodin Paris
Attracting over 700,000 visitors annually the Musée Rodin is a museum which is primarily dedicated to the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
Opened in 1919 the museum has two sites including the Hôtel Biron with lush grounds in central Paris and Auguste Rodin’s Villa des Brillants.
Rodin lived in Villa des Brillants whilst he carried out his work at the Hôtel Biron. Remarkably, Rodin donated his whole collection to the French state upon his death in return that they turn the buildings into museums.
As well as his own work, Auguste Rodin acquired paintings from world-renowned artists including Van Gogh, Monet, and Renoir. Today, his most famous pieces include The Thinker (1904), The Kiss (1882), and The Gates of Hell (1917)
You can see a version of The Gates of Hell at the Musée d’Orsay.